The average American family will spend more than $240,000 to raise a single child for 18 years, according to a new report released by the US Department of Agriculture. The costs of day care, food, transportation, clothing, and education are climbing, having risen 3 percent since 2011, and the new numbers don't even reflect the cost of college. CNN Money reports on the finding, which is worrying to families who are continuing to struggle in economically tenuous times:
At the same time, wages aren't keeping up. The country's median annual household income has fallen by more than $4,000 since 2000, after adjusting for inflation, and many of the jobs lost during the recent recession have been replaced with lower-wage positions.
The USDA's latest estimates include expenses for housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, education and child care, as well as miscellaneous expenses, such as toys and computers.
The biggest price tag is for families in the urban Northeast earning $105,360 or more. They will spend $446,100, much more than the national average, according to the report. Meanwhile, families earning less than $61,590 a year in rural areas will spend the least, at $143,160.
While expenses in all categories rose in 2012, health care, education and child care spending increased the most.
Health care spending made up around $20,000, or around 8%, of the USDA's estimated child-rearing expenses for a child born in 2012. Meanwhile, child care and education expenses represented nearly 18% of the total costs for middle-income parents.
Since 2000, the cost of child care has increased twice as fast as the median income of families with children, according to the most recent report from Child Care Aware of America. In 2011, the average cost of full-time center-based care for an infant ranged from about $4,600 a year in Mississippi to more than $15,000 in Massachusetts.
"Many families are priced out of licensed child care services," said Lynette Fraga, executive director of the nonprofit group. "If they are priced out, then the health and safety of those children are at risk."
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